Learning to Unlearn|Jul 12, 2013 4:02 AM| by:

The Teacher as Evolutionary Energy

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“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”

That man is indeed blessed who has found a worthy work in life to which he can devote his finer energies with satisfaction and joy. Twice blessed are those who have felt the call to be a teacher, for in its noblest dimensions this creative service reaches out to all humankind as an energy of evolution which bears fruit in worlds yet unborn.

Teaching is an act of faith in the power of man to improve himself through conscious endeavour. It is an effort on the part of the teacher to reawaken the student to the true significance of the magnificence of being, and within the aura of a loving relationship to inspire and guide him toward the enlightenment of an ever wider and deeper life. Teaching is a gift of self-born love, nurtured by aspiration and manifested in wisdom, devotion and selfless action.

Just as there are many modes and dimensions of human existence, so there are different types of teachers. There are, of course, those who regard teaching simply as a form of employment with its routines and satisfactions much like any other vocational task. Neither inspired nor inspiring, teachers of this sort preserve the established patterns of life with no thought beyond the transmission of the norms of society and cultural traditions.

There are others for whom teaching is a life-invitation of uncommon significance. These men and women apply themselves thoughtfully to a broadly conceived range of role responsibilities. They help to maintain the desirable standards of the outer life but equally seek to foster advancement and progress along many lines of human hope and application. Such as these are acknowledged as the “backbone of the profession.”

Beyond this are the great-souled teachers of the world, men of tomorrow, exemplars of a new order of human life on earth who teach not so much by what they say and do as by their very being. Such rare and precious individuals are found wherever a great-souled person teaches. These advanced and gifted beings are the legislators of a new age, instruments of a cosmic urge greater than themselves. Teachers of this calibre are actualising their own finer potentialities in everyday life, are guided by a consciousness more illumined than that of ordinary men, and are richly endowed with a transcendent vision of human destiny. In the sense that education can serve to help the human race advance toward self-surpassing manifestations of life and thought, the great-souled teacher is an agent of evolution.

A diverse and complex society has need for varied approaches to teaching and learning. Even where highly aware and visionary teachers are seeking to elevate the human condition, the stabilising elements of culture and civilisation still need to be transmitted to the majority of students whose dominant tendencies remain essentially unaffected by the evolutionary pressures of the planet. Further, the true art of teaching recognises the necessity of a balanced and harmonious programme of integral education.

All aspects of being need proper cultivation: the physical, vital, mental, psychic and spiritual facets of the self all contribute as parts of an essential wholeness at the heart of human emergence. Thus it is that teaching may be conceived properly as both a science and an art. The science of teaching, which deals primarily with the form and substance, the exoteric aspects of life and learning, creates the matrix within which our development might best proceed. The art of teaching breathes into this the animating life and spirit which alone invests with enduring meaning our mundane affairs, making possible an experience of true joy and the outflowering of man’s finer potentialities.

The master teacher neglects neither the science nor the art of teaching, but it is exercise of the latter which holds the promise of a transformation within man towards supraconscious selfhood and a unitary life. Teaching as an art offers the opportunity for bringing together all of the best that is within oneself for the hopeful purpose of leading out the finer self in others. Where the Divine shines through in the life of the teacher is found the greatest illumination for others along the Path. This path of inner and outer plenitude leads the questing spirit beyond the boundaries of static comfort and status quo existence into the larger life of adventurous transmutation in which “from Wonder unto Wonder existence opens.”

If education is recognised as an arch through which may be discovered a more comprehensive and joyful life-expression, then the metaphor suggests that the teacher is the keystone of that arch. Teaching has been called the world’s most dangerous profession, for to a very great degree the teacher possesses the power to lead a learner into the wilderness of an unawakened life or into the supreme joy and fulfilment inherent in the birth-promise of all men. In this time when throughout the world a new type of consciousness is wanting to be fully born, a great responsibility rests with those who teach. As Teilhard de Chardin so pointedly expressed it, “It is through education that the slow convergence of minds and hearts is proceeding, without which there seems to be no outlet ahead of us for the impulse of Life. Directly charged with the task of achieving this unanimity of mankind, the educator must constantly live with it and consciously strive for its realisation.”

A New Type of Teacher

Our present age of transition is giving rise to a new type of teacher serving in the larger field of society who has come to the realisation that man is a conscious power of the supreme creative intention on Planet Earth. In light of such truth these educators seek to “put the growing soul in the way of its own perfection,” to lead into the light of full awareness and life-expression the true self within. Such teaching is above and beyond all technique, finding its source in the spirit.

Teachers of this perception and understanding recognize that the deepest and most enduring forms of learning and development take place through an awakening of latent capacities in the minds and hearts of students. With a sensitive wisdom born of personal experience these men and women help to facilitate the student or seeker in the discovery of his own illimitable powers of being.

The reciprocating energies which characterize all human relationship prompt the highly conscious educator to direct such power of influence towards the liberation of the learner’s own capacities and powers in natural and spontaneous ways. In setting aside those values and patterns of life which provide the comfort of familiarity and security, the teacher can contribute to an environment which encourages his students to be self-aware and to understand the promptings and aspirations of their own minds and hearts. Together the teacher and student become explorers in the uncharted domains of human development and evolution, adventurers in inner space seeking to open up new frontiers of the human intellect and spirit.

Teaching-Learning

In such an unending quest shared mutually by teacher and student, teaching is defined as a reciprocation in learning. The boundaries between teacher and learner are replaced by a harmonious and cooperative response to the challenge of the unknown which beckons. Thus the most effective teaching is simultaneously a learning process. Each teaching experience needs to be approached with dual purpose: the desire to teach and equally the desire to learn. As Confucius said, “Acquire new knowledge while thinking over old, and you may become a teacher of others.” In their intimate interaction, teacher and student grow together towards new realisation and fulfilment in both.

Teaching of this nature necessitates a centre to centre relationship beyond the reaches of mind and emotion and the limited power of words alone. It is, in effect, a form of satsang in which the personal life of the teacher becomes the primary teaching energy. Beyond curriculum and materials, technique and methodology, what a man stands for in his essential being speaks to his students with a subtle but pervasive power. Indeed, “the way to do is to be”. That teaching which is inspired by the promise of a higher life for the race arises not out of some secondary artifice of instruction but from the teacher’s primary relation with Truth.

The purest form of teaching is a thing of the spirit. History and present experience reveal that wherever the great teachers of this world have appeared it is their authentic and radiant presence which evokes the deepest and most enduring response in those who come to learn. What a man is tells for vastly more than what he says. In truth, the best instruction is not in words. The pupil may fail to read the assigned material but at every moment the subtler processes of his nature are responding to the teacher’s presence. By influences and associations beyond the letter and the word we are most powerfully and deeply transformed. This teaching and learning is most charged with the enduring qualities which live on in other men’s lives, constant in its operation and spiritual in character.

Thinking back on the teachers in his own life, Mahatma Gandhi expressed for many of us that he had little recollection of the books he had read or the lessons he had studied, but always standing beside him were those men and women whose own inspired lives had set for him an example which had become a vital teaching force throughout his life. The fire in our own breast is kindled by those in whom the flame burns brightest.

In effect, teaching which inheres with the vibrant potential for furthering the cause of human destiny in the evolutionary thrust of our planet is the inevitable fruition of a way of life. The power of a teacher to help activate the transformative processes in the lives of others through a living relationship may be known by the quality of his own being, by his own patterns of response to the fullness of life. As the wise Greek, Bias, wrote, “Himself is the treasure that a whole life has gathered. He stands for the wealth of being that a thousand past struggles have contributed to form.” It is an ancient wisdom which reminds us that that man who would be a teacher of others must first put himself on the path.

Modern science confirms the perennial teachings of metaphysics that every human entity exerts a subtle force upon others whom he contacts, however undetected it may be. Each of us is engaged in a life of silent interaction with our fellowmen who, in turn, extend this influence in their expanding sphere of relationship. These spheres take on a wider and richer power as one grows in spiritual stature. The teacher who personifies evolutionary energy at work in the world of humanity spends the whole of his career extending the horizons of his own spirit. The race owes much to those men and women who serve as exemplars of Truth and the Oneness of Spirit. These forerunners of humanity effect a progressive opening of our minds and hearts toward fresh levels of individual and collective meaning and life.

As seed-men of unbounded tomorrows the cosmically awakened teachers carry the torch of human evolution. In their own elevated being and action open for all to experience, they give birth to the ideals and aspirations of the race, revealing to others that the life of the spirit is worth striving for. Thus the teacher as evolutionary energy is seen as the illumined individual whose living presence in the daily affairs of life draws men upward towards the light of some higher consciousness and human unity. For those who aspire to such a life of spiritual service the words of Plutarch assure us that “to achieve the worthy ends of teaching requires good gifts and intense application, but this goal human nature is capable of achieving.”

Challenge for Educators

The paramount challenge for educators who are responding to the realisation that man is a transitional being in whom a higher expression of the Creative Energies of the cosmos are being worked out is essentially twofold in nature. On the one hand there needs to be a perfectioning of the capacities and potentialities of the individual in the act of self-transcendence. Equally there must be facilitated a coming together or linking of the separative elements of humanity in an ever-increasing complex of interaction and purposive global harmony. Man, with his unique capacity for highly conscious collaboration with the laws of evolution, may, through the process of education, extend to all humanity the invitation and the means to a supramental, unitary life waiting to be embodied in the race.

The greatest minds of our age assure us that we are presently living in the most significant and decisive period of human history. At an ever-accelerating rate of psychosocial and spiritual emergence the human species is moving into the welcome crisis of a rapidly gathering global energy which is bringing an intense pressure to bear on outlived concepts and patterns of life. Throughout the world today converging lines of force are pressing for man to claim his birthright as the precursor of Ultra-Man. The decisions and action which arise out of the next few decades could well prove to be critical in determining the future evolution of man.

This advance of Nature seeking expression cannot occur along any one line of approach in disregard of other pertinent factors of human life and development. The advance must be one of both inner and outer characteristics. Equally, for the first time in the present cycle of human emergence, this transformation is pressing for an expression on a global scale greater than that comprised by the enlightened few. Materially, psychologically and spiritually mankind can and must move forward on the crest of a mounting wave of planetary awakening. But it must be recognised that no improvements in the social system, distribution of commodities or advance in science and technology can carry man across the threshold of a new age without an attendant inner or spiritual transformation.

The Focal Point

Throughout the world today, in unprecedented and ever growing numbers, men and women have already begun to live a supramental, unitary life. They form a nucleus of a new order for tomorrow’s world. Theirs is not a community of physical proximity or geographic boundaries, but a oneness, cooperation and service which derives from and contributes to the global sphere of human energy in which all men live and move and have their being. These integral cosmic beings are dedicated to responsible participation in the evolutionary world process. They are the new age exemplars for humanity through whom the most certain and rapid progress of the race may occur.

In this present age of transition the work of these men and women becomes the focal point through which may be ushered in a time of greater fulfilment for humanity as a more perfect instrument of Divine purpose on earth. Thus it is that a new breed of teachers is appearing. No longer confined within the limits of institutional structure, orthodoxy of thought or circumspection of action, these pioneers of supra-consciousness and world union are emerging as the true teachers of the race revealing for man a whole new Kingdom of life on Earth waiting to be claimed.

Humanity exists through the individuals and is perfected by their perfection. As the teachings and experience reveal, when the individual is changed everything around him is changed. The destiny of mankind depends on the will of all who perceive a greater life ahead to collaborate in the transcendent task which now opens before us, thus setting for others a living example in the vibrant school of life.

Whether we choose the path of knowledge and wisdom, love and devotion, or action and service, the first process is to open the ranges of our inner being and to live from there outward, governing our outward life by an inner force of being. “To persevere in turning towards the light is what is most demanded,” wrote Sri Aurobindo. In the process of coming to know the self the individual becomes united with Essential Being and therefore with all things in the universe.

In our choice to work towards and participate in a supermanhood of tomorrow we inevitably accept the role of teacher to the world, for whatever our outward role in life, if undertaken with sincerity and aspiration, what we are and are becoming can only end up by affecting the consciousness and destiny of humanity. The spirit of these illumined ones lives on, not only in their native lands but, as Pericles said, “… also far away, without visible symbol, woven into the stuff of other men’s lives.” Such teaching serves not only the highest purposes of its time and place, but does indeed affect eternity.

For those who choose to participate in the growing ranks of teachers for a fresh dispensation of life on Earth, the lives of those Master Teachers who have gone before us provide ample inspiration and direction. In such as these may be found a common core of attributes for all to follow. In each there was demonstrated a purity of heart and soul reflecting a Divine presence within, and they “taught” with no motive other than love for mankind, the “only medium through which spiritual force can be transmitted.”

Each was a radiant presence empowered as an enduring influence in the lives of others, teaching through example the Truth which knows neither time nor place. Where actual teachings were employed they were vividly suggestive of the higher spiritual values, the most profound truths common to all humankind. Those in the presence of such teachers experienced a power of spiritual energy which lives on in the life of the student or disciple as an inexorable urge towards a finer destiny.

Thus it is that the teacher as evolutionary energy, seeking always to surpass his former self, daily refines and integrates the several aspects of his being. Such a high degree of conscious integration of the life-force leads to a dynamic, personalized expression of his unique outer manifestation of the One Truth of all existence. Through a meditative life of progressive self-unfoldment, an intuitive selfhood and luminous Truth-Consciousness is revealed in thought and deed, serving to help others open up their own fields of spiritual awareness.

As living examples of selfless, unqualified love, these teachers, as instruments of Creation, are drawn inexorably by this “sacred energy” into a creative synthesis with fellowmen everywhere towards the gradual establishment of a new civilization and a new humanity. In effect, they are the joyous collaborators in the outworking of a Divine evolution among men.

– Robert Brainbridge